Category Archives: Korean Food

Thanksgiving Eats

Turkey Time

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and adjusted back to life in the grind today. I had all of week plus today off and was pretty happy with the food I consumed over the break. I got home last Monday, and my dad suggested we go to McDonald’s to get some McRibs. Knowing my parents, such a request was pretty shocking. I declined, and he suggested driving up to Edison so I could try some new Chinese restaurants. The first two we tried were closed so we found ourselves in heaven H Mart. Spacious, clean, reasonably priced and delicious food court options. We got a seafood pancake, a bowl of noodle soup, and some Korean fried chicken. Then, we shopped for lobsters and abalone for a late dinner.

On Tuesday my dad got KFC for lunch. My reality is seriously taking a U-turn. Maybe it was a little Thanksgiving warm up? The mashed potatoes and chicken were as I remembered, but the biscuits weren’t as big or fluffy. Recipe change? Sad face.

On Wednesday, the cooking began after some take out Chinese for lunch. I got started on baking treats for in house snacking, friends and neighbors. First up were Chocolate Chunk Cookies based off Tollhouse Cookies without the walnuts and chunks instead of chips. Next were the office favorite, Cookies n Cream Cupcakes, which friends also enjoyed However, they didn’t get them until 2-3 days after so they dried out a bit in the fridge. Finally, Thanksgiving desserts included Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apple Pie.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Cookies N Cream Cupcakes

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Apple Pie

The big day included waffles for brunch with a blackberry topping and fresh blackberries and bananas.

Thanksgiving Brunch

For the big meal, we had a 12 lbs. turkey brined and rubbed with sage, kosher salt and a little rosemary along with a half lemon and cinnamon stick in the cavity. Gravy was made using a roux, chicken stock and soy sauce. This was the most successful gravy I’ve made to date in terms of universal appeal, color, texture and taste. I did feel guilty about cutting out the pan drippings, since I had so much to do. Green bean casserole, dressing, sage and rosemary biscuits, sweet potato mash and spaghetti squash with cranberries rounded out the meal. The green bean casserole was the first time I made it completely from scratch, and while it looked sexy, the fried onions still didn’t measure up to French’s. The dressing was still inferior to Stove Top, but I’m still confident that someday I will have a recipe that will be better. The spaghetti squash was a new addition this year and was inspired by a meal at Oceanarie the week before Thanksgiving. The strands from the squash are pretty cool. When my dad asked if I cut the squash into the strands, I was pretty tempted to say yes. Overall, my dad said it was the best Thanksgiving meal to date that I’ve made, so my constant need for approval was satisfied for the time being.

Sage and Rosemary Biscuits

Spaghetti Squash with Cranberries

Green Bean Casserole

The Spread

Coma on a Plate

On Friday night, I met up with a few friends for burgers at 25 Burgers and had a Bull’s Eye Burger with sweet potato fries. The burger itself was pretty messy and greasy, but it’s the best burger within a 15 minute drive from my house. The onion strings and patty were the highlights, while the bun was lacking. The fries were decent, but the portion was rather small. Overall the burger, fries, and drink were a little over $12.

BBQ Burgers Don’t Know How to Disappoint

The next day, I ate at Shanghai Bun and got some sauteed pork and vegetables with Shanghai noodles, and my friend got chicken and mustard green soup. For dinner, I hung out with a few of my sister’s friends and went to the Olive Garden for the first time. The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but was packed by the time we left. I was definitely surprised with the decor and ambiance, since I always though the commercials were so corny. However, the prices were also higher than I imagined. I was thinking most entrees would be $8-15, but the range was more like $12-$20. The seating was interesting, with wheels on all four legs sliding in every direction. The bread sticks were on the salty side, but you can’t go wrong with unlimited warm bread. For my entree, I got braised short ribs. I’m not 100% confident that it didn’t come out of a bag, but the tenderness of the meat was still enjoyable. Overall, the meal was better than I expected, but at $28 with tax and tip, I’d rather spend my dining out money elsewhere.

If Only Plate of Food Grew on Trees

Healthy Can Taste Good

The Most Perfectly Shaped Breadsticks I’ve Ever Seen in my Life

Braised Short Ribs

NJ & NY Columbus Day Weekend

Last weekend I enjoyed a 5 day weekend visiting NJ and NYC. In 6 of the last 8 years I’ve made the pilgrimage back to the Tri-state and got to enjoy suburban NJ Chinese food and the company of some New Yorkers to take me around town. On Thursday, I took the bus and got home in time for dinner at Shanghai Bun, which is a family favorite. The interior has gotten a huge face lift over the years, but the food is still great as always. I actually had dinner here both Thursday and Friday nights. That is how much I love this place.

Fish and Mushrooms with Wine Sauce

Wonton Soup

Soup Dumplings

Wonton Soup

Scallion Pancakes

Beef Sandwiches

Fried Tofu with Fish

On Friday after working up an appetite at the gym, I finally got to try a burger place that opened up two or so years ago that a friend recommended. Frankly Burgers & More is now the burger to beat within a 30 minute drive from my house.

Frankly Burgers and More

Since it was probably the last warm weekend of the year, why not enjoy the last of the heat with some ice cream from Applegate Farms?

Pistachio and Cow Tracks

On Saturday, I woke up in Lower Manhattan and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time to eat at Grimaldi’s, which is among the most visited pizza spots in NYC by both tourists and locals. So much so that we barely made it on the first seating because a tour bus got priority seating.

Grimaldi’s Large Pizza with Sausage, Mushrooms and Ricotta

For dinner, we had Yakitori at Village Okocho in the East Village. Much more affordable than Kushi for you folks down in DC, but ambiance suffers.

Japanese Sausage

Fried Calamari

Mushrooms in Butter Sauce


Fried Skewers

Yakitori and Smoked Fish

The next day we trekked out to Queens to have Korean at Sik Gaek Chun Ha, which was featured on No Reservations. Anthony Bourdain visited with David Chang to down a huge platter of seafood and fresh octopus. Sadly, they were out of fresh octopus so we dined on a spicy seafood stir fry, seafood pancakes and pork skin. Poor us.

Pork Skin Crisping on the Grill

Seafood Pancake

After this meal, we headed back to Lower Manhattan to have dinner in Chinatown to eat some Chinese fast food at Big Wong King. Think roast pork/duck over rice with some greens at those places with meat hanging from the windows. No pictures here as this type of food tends to be dumped on a plate.

Here are some pictures that capture the great weather, the great state of NJ, and the deliciousness of the weekend.

The Undirty Jerz

Thanks for the Delicous Trip NYC

In case you were wondering- 3 pounds gained over 5 days. Class.

Snacks from Foreign Shores: Oh Yes Choco Cake

I came across a Korean market in Central Square and bought rice cake for my chao nian gao recipe. I also picked a few items for another Snacks from Foreign Shores piece. After walking up and down the snack aisle, I went back to the piles of snacks near the front of the aisle to pick something that was obviously calling out to me. As I looked at a box of choco cake, I was thinking to myself, “should I get this?” Little did I know the answer was already written in front of me. Oh Yes! Choco Cake.

Oh Yes Chocao Cake!?!?

The box included 12 individually wrapped square cakes. On the wrapper it reads “You know that sweet things make smile. We love to see you smile with your people. So just taste this cake.” Sold and sold. Each choco cake consisted of two thin pieces of white/pale yellow cake with a thin layer of chocolate between each piece. The entire cake is then coated with another layer of chocolate. Sounds deadly doesn’t it? Don’t worry, Asian treats like this will not taste nearly as unhealthy as an American treat like say Entermann’s. Overall, a little to bland for a snack cake. I’m still sticking with biscuit and chocolate related snacks.

Individually Wrapped Treats

The anatomy of Oh Yes

Suburban Dining

Moving back home to NJ has left me immobile as I no longer have auto insurance. This means that I have to succumb to whatever food or dining options are thrown at me either at home or where ever my parents want to go. Over the last 6.5 years, I’ve been coming home less and less, which means less variety. My parents tend to have a steady rotation of the same Asian restaurants: Shanghai Bun (Taiwanese/noodles), West Lake (Cantonese/dim sum/seafood), Ruby Palace (cheap lunch specials), Crown Palace (Cantonese/dim sum), Szechuan Garden (Szechuan), and Coconut Forest (Malaysian). Sometimes we’ll take 20-30 minute trips to places like Penang (Malaysian), U-Yee (half price sushi), or a Japanese buffet of some sort.

The lack of new places to try in the suburbs leaves me missing city life, but at the same time familiarity is what makes going home so great. Yesterday, one of my friends wanted to try a new Korean and Japanese restaurant (let’s save the dual ethnic restaurant debate for another post). The restaurant is called Kimchi & Sushi and what makes it significant is that it’s one of the only Korean restaurants in the area. It is ironic how they replaced a Vietnamese restaurant that was one of the few Vietnamese restaurants in the area as well.

I’ve come a long way since I went to my first Korean restaurant in college by none other than Katie. I generally regarded Korean as my least favorite Asian cuisine behind Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Taiwanese. However, over the years kimchi has grown on me, and you can’t go wrong with tender marinated meats. Yesterday evening I graduated from Bulgogi, Kalbi, Jap Chae, and Korean BBQ to Stone Bowls.

Kalbi, Can’t Go Wrong

I ordered the Spicy Pork and Vegetable Stone Bowl, which was delivered in a piping hot stone bowl filled with rice and topped with the stir fried pork and vegetables. The hot bowl gave the rice a crispy texture and kept the dish hot for the duration of the entire meal. The meal also included some forgettable miso soup, and good kimchi, though I’m not an expert on kimchi. The Kalbi was tender and flavorful, and I could just eat the sauce with rice any day. The prices were mixed with some Korean dishes as low as $6.95, while most of the popular dishes were in the $13.95-$22.95 range. A majority of the menu were Japanese dishes/sushi, but we didn’t bother to try that out since we have a couple of go to restaurants for that in the area already.

Pork and Vegetables Stir Fried Over Rice in a Hot Stone Bowl

Kimchi and Sushi was a nice addition to the Asian restaurant scene in Monmouth County, NJ, and I would gladly return. I even presented my mom with a card hoping that she will welcome it into her short list of acceptable restaurants. If it’s not Asian cuisine, my mom has a tendency to order either chicken tenders or seafood. She’s just that Asian. Kimchi and Sushi, make me proud.

OOO EEE OOO, Killer Tofu